15 May

Daily Watch – GE interested in Nigerian hydro, PFAs binging on real estate assets

  • The naira strengthened slightly at the parallel market last week, despite a fall in the country’s foreign reserves. On Friday, the naira appreciated by one point against the dollar, moving from ₦391 to ₦390 against the US currency. The British pound lost some ground to the naira to trade at ₦495, while the euro exchanged for ₦420. This happened despite a three-day fall in the country’s foreign reserves, the first in many weeks. As at Thursday evening, the country’s foreign reserves stood at $30,928,485,613, falling from $30,988,403,724 on May 5, 2017. The CBN had implemented some policy actions of late, with the sole aim of stabilising the foreign exchange market, maintaining a continuous intervention at the forex market. The efforts of the regulator seemed to be yielding some results, with a dramatic increase in foreign portfolio investment – the NSE has gained nearly a trillion naira during last week’s trading.
  • The Acting Managing Director of the Bank of Industry, Waheed Olagunju says the bank will assist Small and Medium Enterprises with ₦376 billion before the end of 2019. Olagunju spoke in Makurdi while presenting a paper entitled; “Target Financing for SMEs’’ at a management retreat for officers of the trade and investment ministry and its parastatal agencies. According to Olagunju, disbursement to SMEs increased from a record ₦5.64 billion in 2015 to ₦8.02 billion at end of 2016. He said the bank had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Afterschool Graduate Development Centre. The scheme he said would provide between ₦200,000 to ₦500,000 each to empower one million youths over the next five years. Olagunju said the bank had also lent ₦5 billion to micro-finance banks for financing of micro-loans. Olagunju said 44 key business clusters had been identified nationwide with products developed, taking into account peculiarities as SMEs Credit group was set up to ensure the speedy reviews of credit applications.
  • The Federal Inland Revenue Service has sealed at least 13 firms in Abia over tax default. An agency enforcement team of the agency served court warrants on the defaulting firms on Wednesday. The task force had within two days of its operations in Umuahia metropolis, sealed 13 firms for default on tax arrears running into millions of naira. The affected firms include Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Guest House, and the state university’s petrol station for owing ₦3.5 million in income and value added tax from 2013 to 2016.
  • The country’s Pension Fund Administrators have invested ₦216.8 billion in Contributory Pension Scheme funds in real estate. According to data from the National Pension Commission, this represents 3.4 percent of the ₦6.2 trillion in assets under PFA management. The commission also stated that substantial funds had been invested in domestic and foreign ordinary shares, federal and state securities, among other investment portfolios as at the end of February. The CPS is a creation of the Pension Reform Act, which was enacted to provide a contributory scheme for the payment of retirement benefits of employees in both public and private sectors. The Act mandates every employee to open a Retirement Savings Account in their name with a PFA of their choice and notify their employers. Employers, according to the law, are required to deduct eight percent of the workers’ monthly emolument and add another 10 percent, which should be paid into each employee’s RSA not later than seven days after a salary is paid.
  • A Nigerian oil labour union and Exxon Mobil Corp plan to meet with government officials in an effort to end a strike over the sacking of workers, a union and government official said on Friday. Workers at Exxon Mobil went on strike to protest against the sacking of 150 staff in December. Nigerian labour unions have held a number of similar strikes in the past few months. “There are arrangements for both parties to meet early next week with the federal government,” said Chika Onuegbu, who chairs PENGASSAN in Rivers State. He said the strike was continuing. A government official said the labour minister would convene a meeting to resolve the conflict, without giving detials. A spokesman for Exxon Mobil declined to comment on the possibility of a meeting with the government, adding that the strike had “no impacts” on oil production. Strikes by Exxon workers in Nigeria at the end of 2016 did affect oil output, leading to weeks-long loading delays.
  • General Electric is planning to install hydroelectric plants that will generate an additional two gigawatts of electricity in the country by 2030 in view the the nation’s growing power demands. This is part of a 29GW hydropower expansion projects to be executed by the American multinational in four African countries over the next 13 years. The President and Chief Executive Officer, Hydro, GE Renewable Energy, Yves Rannou, gave this indication in the corporation’s latest report, ahead of the 2017 World Hydropower Congress. He said presently, the firm had about 18 GW hydro installed base in Africa, adding that Angola, Mozambique, Morocco and Ethiopia would also benefit from its expansion plans. GE, whose business focuses on oil and gas, power, water supply, aviation, health care, transportation and capital, had annoucned plans to invest in Nigeria’s three refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna, and select power projects earlier this year.